Today I'm going to take a short break on the Happy Birthday LSU posts and explain something that has been on my mind for over a year now. Namely, the ways that QR codes and bar code scanning may change the way surveyors do business in the near future.
Surveyors, did you know that there is such a thing as a paper-based hyperlink? Imagine this: You get to a jobsite with a set of plans and each page has this wierd code at the bottom that looks like this to your right. What is it? It a Quick Respnse (QR) code and I predict that in the near future we may be seeing more and more of these showing up in the place where a Surveyor's business location and contact information is usually shown. Why? It's quite simple really....you can scan the code with any cell phone and it will immediately jump to the information that the QR code represents, such as a map to a location, a website address, a photo slideshow or virtually anything web based. Let's learn more about QR codes.
Where are all of these QR codes? You’ve probably seen them on billboards, in newspapers, magazines or other paper-based publications: two-dimensional bar codes, called quick response codes (QR codes). What are they? QR Codes have been described as paper-based hyperlinks, and this is a good description. You simply take a picture of a QR code with your smart phone, and you get redirected to a website using your cell phone’s browser. They can also be used digitally—you can append a QR code to a Tweet, or they can be displayed on a web page to transfer contact information directly to a cell phone, for example. This technology is blurring the distinction between smart phones, digital destination and content, and paper-based communication mediums. For surveyors, this could mean the ability to bring a LOT more information with you to the field. Image having a single QR code which indicates a photo album of all benchmarks or property corners on a project. You'd never lose a single marker ever again!
As mentioned before, QR technology provides cell phone users the ability to scan paper-based content using the cell phone’s camera to decode information on a drawing, a manual, a business card, a gift card, a coupon or a website. Once the QR code has been scanned and decoded, the user has access via their cell phone to the information or destinations that can be any or all of the following:
- Personal or company contact information in a MeCard, BlackBerry PIN or BlackBerry vCard.
- An embedded phone number which the phone can dial, or a company home page URL or a specific destination on a social network (i.e. company fan page).
- An RSS feed, SMS or an arbitrary text message.
- An email address or a calendar event with location, title, start and end time, alarm and zone.
- A physical address with location coordinates information.
This unadorned code can be visually modified to a certain extent. For example, a number of agencies are providing custom QR codes for businesses that incorporate their logo or an image. These custom codes are referred to as Design QR Codes.
Take a look at these design codes that I made. In the case of the first code the image (Land Surveyors United Shield) lays on top of a number of the QR code cells, thus obscuring some of the information. Nevertheless, this is not a problem because the information is recreated using robust error correction code technology. In the second code, the individual cells are not obscured by the red LSU image, and the decoder can actually read all the cells. In this case the error correction algorithm is treating the logo as if it was a smudge, and correctly decodes the information.
So,what else can you do with QR codes?
What other possibilities are there? Well, let’s take a look at where ordinary consumers are finding QR codes. They're starting to show up in brochures, magazine ads, web-based and printed maps, food packaging, movie posters, business cards, emails, websites and even ...get this, on the sides of buses. With these vehicles in mind, the current technology could be used in the following manner:
- Encode contact information or a short white paper on the back of a business card. This enables a paper to digital transfer of information.
- Enable an easy connection by a mobile device to your website. You could also encode a map with directions for company visitors, or encode company information for display in Google maps.
- Track print-based media effectiveness—tracking which ad or poster drove traffic to custom landing pages. Users can also interact with other printed media such as offers on paper-based gift cards and coupons. QR codes can be printed on receipts with additional offers, or provide customer service contact information.
- Users can also interact with digital advertisements. For example, they can scan digital coupons and discount offers on a webpage. You could also place QR codes in an email newsletter for additional offers or for event-based information.
- You can develop loyalty programs—providing special offers on landing pages from paper-based content that is not accessible from any other source. You could push consumers to a website to view the daily offer, to see if they won a free prize or perhaps to participate in a contest. You could also conduct surveys where a user scans one of multiple choice codes and the select response is automatically sent back to the company.
- You can enable product purchase offers, and provide easy access to product information and reviews. You can also provide easy connections to down load applications and content. You could also register a bookmark, append a QR code to a tweet using Bit.ly or encode access to a special webinar.
- You could print codes with product or contact information on business swag such as coffee cups, t-shirts and hats. I’ve also seen several examples where a QR codes were tattooed on a man’s arm.
So How can the Ordinary Land Surveyor Use QR Codes
Depending onthe state in which you live, there may be options for experimenting with using QR codes in place of your legal business name, address, contact information, etc. on blueprints and jobsite plans. You might also try uploading a set of geographically located photographs of markers on a jobsite to Land Surveyors United into an album, then generate a QR code for the web address of that album so that the next time you are there, you can simply scan the bar code and instantly pull up all of your markers in one simple step. The possibilities are endless...
QR code generators
If you wish to experiment with QR codes there are plenty of sites where you can generate codes for free in just seconds—here are a few good ones.
Download QR Code Readers
As well, there are many sources for free QR Code Readers for your smart phone.
More Reading about QR Codes on Land Surveyors United:
Video: QR Maps
Do you have any ideas of ways you think using QR codes in your surveying life might be beneficial? Share your ideas below..